In the wake of the detention of 12-year old Faizan Sofi by Jammu and Kashmir Police, the civil society on Saturday staged a candle light sit-in here seeking upgradation of juvenile justice law and an end to juvenile detentions in Kashmir.

Speaking on the occasion, noted Supreme Court lawyer and founder Director of Human Rights Law Network, Colin Gonsalvez said that Jammu and Kashmir Government has failed to comply with the Apex Court directions on the child rights.

“Jammu and Kashmir is probably the only place where the Apex Court directions on the issue are not implemented and therefore, we can force the government to implement these guidelines by seeking legal intervention in the matter,” he said.
“If we are armed with statistics about the child detentions then we can knock the doors of Supreme Court for seeking investigation in juvenile detentions in the state,” he added.

Gonsalvez, who has represented number of Kashmiri detainees at Delhi High Court, minced no words in castigating the State Government for shabby situation of the child rights in JK.

“I was told here that children are booked for waging war and they are detained in police stations,” he said, adding juveniles cannot be detained in police stations and booked under an FIR.

Talking about the detention of Faizan, Gonsalvez said; “How can you book a 12-year old youth for waging war against India? How can you book him on such a severe charge when he is just holding a stone in hand? He cannot wage the war by pelting a stone. The maximum stone can do is that it can cause damage.”

Pertinently, Faizan was arrested last week by cops of police station Safakadal in summer capital and was subsequently booked under harsh sections of Ranbir Penal Code and CrPC : section 121 (waging war against the State), 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (member of unlawful assembly), 152 (assaulting or obstructing a public servant when suppressing riot), 427 (mischief causing damage) and 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage).

Chairperson of Arnimaal, Kalpana Tikku while pointing out to the loopholes in existing juvenile justice mechanism said that JK Government has failed to upgrade the juvenile justice law.

“While all the states have improved the juvenile justice mechanism after government of India ratified United Nations Convention on Child Rights, Jammu and Kashmir is the only exception. In rest of the country, the cut-off age of a juvenile is 18, but here it is 16,” she said, adding that there should be an end to juvenile detentions forthwith.

“There is no protective mechanism for the children in conflict with law in the present legal framework in JK,” she said, adding that today’s program is aimed to draw the attention towards the plight of children in the state in absence of proper legal framework.

Chairperson, Inner Call, Dr Roma Wani called for bringing the child rights laws in JK at consonance with international standards.

“This is a serious issue and we should not behave as mute spectators over it and should do everything to protect the rights of the children,” she said.

Convener of JK RTI Movement, Sheikh Ghulam Rasool came down heavily on state government for detention of Faizan and said such actions are not part of the civilized societies.

Civil rights activist, Inam-un-Nabi demanded constitution of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights for securing the rights of juveniles.

“It is irony that despite Jammu and Kashmir falling outside the ambit of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), State Government has failed to constitute such a body at the state level. The State needs to learn lessons from other states as they have constituted Commissions despite being covered by NCPCR,” he said.

On the occasion, several members of civil society including lawyers carrying the banners participated in the candle light sit-in.  They also started signature campaign to press for their demand of improving juvenile justice system in the state.

Source: Greater Kashmir – 01/09/2012 (http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2012/Sep/2/faizan-detention-triggers-cry-for-child-rights-in-jk-33.asp)